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Court Addresses Punitive Damages in Florida Nursing Home Abuse Case

An appellate court recently issued an opinion regarding punitive damages in a Florida nursing home abuse case. The appeal arose from a negligence and wrongful death lawsuit filed by a nursing home resident’s family. The family amended their lawsuit to include a claim of punitive damages against the facility. The nursing home claimed that it was not liable for punitive damages under Florida law.

There are two main types of damages that Florida personal injury victims can obtain, compensatory and punitive. As the name suggests, compensatory damages are awarded to a plaintiff to compensate them for losses that they suffered because of their injuries. Typically, this includes compensation amounts for medical bills, losses related to changed plans, lost wages, losses of support, and pain and suffering. Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages are awarded solely to punish the defendant’s reprehensible behavior.

Plaintiffs often seek punitive damages after they suffered injuries because of a defendant’s egregious behavior. In response to the growing number of nursing home abuse cases, Florida enacted a specific provision for punitive damages in nursing home negligence lawsuits. Under Florida law, plaintiffs must establish that the defendant’s actions were grossly negligent. Gross negligence occurs when a defendant’s conduct was so reckless or lacking in care that it amounted to a conscious disregard or indifference to the life, safety, or rights of individuals that are exposed to their conduct.

Florida law mandates that parties wishing to claim punitive damages can only do so when they provide relevant, admissible evidence that provides a basis for recovery. In instances where plaintiffs amend their complaints to add punitive damages, the trial court must conduct a hearing to determine whether the party met their evidentiary burden. In nursing home abuse cases seeking punitive damages, the plaintiff must show that defendants “actively and knowingly” engaged in intentional misconduct or that their behavior amounted to gross negligence.

In this case, the court quashed the order for punitive damages because the plaintiff failed to provide admissible evidence that the facility was grossly negligent. The court stated that the plaintiffs did not even provide evidence to establish ordinary negligence. This lawsuit illustrates that obtaining punitive damages — while possible — can be very difficult. Thus, having an experienced and dedicated law firm can be helpful to facilitate a plaintiff’s successful recovery.

Have You Suffered Damages Because of a Florida Nursing Home’s Negligence?

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries as a result of Florida nursing home neglect, you should contact the dedicated attorneys at the Law Offices of Robert Dixon. The Florida personal injury attorneys at our South Florida personal injury law firm understand how daunting and complicated nursing home abuse lawsuits can be. Our attorneys are well-versed in the various evidentiary and procedural requirements of Florida courts, and can help you get the compensation that you deserve. Victims of Florida nursing home abuse deserve the exceptional representation we provide to each of our clients. If you are successful, damages may include compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, lost support, pain and suffering and, in some cases, punitive damages. Contact our law firm today at 1-877-499-4878 to schedule your free initial consultation.